Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps no player has benefited more from Mike D’Antoni’s arrival in Los Angeles than Jodie Meeks. When the Lakers added Meeks to the roster he was expected to be the sharpshooter that would stretch the floor while giving the team a lift off the bench. Under Mike Brown it was much different story for Meeks.
In Brown’s failed attempt to give the Lake Show a Princeton education Meeks was looking like another Jason Kapono-esque benchwarmer. His shot was MIA, his minutes were typically unpredictable as it always was in Brown’s rotation and Meeks offered next to nothing defensively.
But all of that has changed with D’Antoni in town. Suddenly Meeks is an unexpected X-factor off the bench who is earning big minutes including some crucial tick during crunch time.
Meeks has hit double figures in scoring in 6 of the last 7 games including a 24-point outburst in the Nation’s Capital. The three point threat Mitch Kupchak signed has finally reveled himself but that’s just half of what he brings to the table.
Most surprising of all is that Meeks has emerged as a dependable defender under D’Antoni’s coaching. Maybe No D Antoni doesn’t have a defensive bone in his body but he’s certainly lit a flame under Meeks.
The all-out effort Meeks brings to the floor every night has earned him 20+ minutes of burn in all but one game in December. Sometimes hustling goes a long way in playing D. Meeks has certainly proven that by harassing the opposition, swarming to the ball and scrambling on every possession.
Now if the Lakers can keep their winning ways going and actually work their way into the playoff picture (sad we’re saying that in late December) then Meeks will be a highly valued contributor. In fact, we could be looking at another Lakers Sixth Man of the Year candidate if his production continues. Of course all of that is trivial if we’re still talking about a sub. 500 team come March. But that can’t deny the fact that Meeks is flourishing in D’Antoni’s system.